Roger Nygard - The Nature of Existence
Posted: 10 December 2010 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Roger Nygard recently produced and directed a feature documentary called The Nature of Existence. In it, he asks some of the biggest of questions to “the widest cross-section of humanity possible.” Why do we exist? What is our purpose? What is truth? He asked these and many other substantial questions to individuals with a wide range of worldviews—from Richard Dawkins, to 24th generation Chinese Taoist Master Zhang Chengda, to the founder of Ultimate Christian Wrestling, Rob Adonis.

In this wide-ranging conversation with Robert Price, Nygard discusses whether or not it’s worthwhile to distinguish between “normal” religions and “weird” fringe belief systems. He talks about some common themes and huge differences in the worldviews he explored, and whether or not he found any of the worldviews to be helpful or genuinely harmful.

He talks about the conflict between science and religion, and even shares his own best guess at the meaning of existence.

Roger Nygard has directed, produced, written, and edited for film and television. He directed and edited Trekkies (1999), Trekkies 2 (2004), and Six Days in Roswell (2000), a docu-comedy about UFO enthusiasts.

For television, he has directed and edited episodes of the HBO series, The Mind of the Married Man, edited episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and directed episodes of the FOX series The Bernie Mac Show and The Loop, the NBC series The Office, the DisneyXD series Zeke & Luther, and many others.

The Nature of Existence is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Posted: 11 December 2010 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I really enjoyed this episode. The Nature of Existence sounds like a fascinating documentary, so I just added it to my Netflix queue. I might have more to say after I watch it, hopefully this week.

Posted: 13 December 2010 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Robert Price has the most annoying voice!  I’m glad he’s only on occasionally.  As a host, interviewee, and panel member, he always sounds like he’s trying too hard to sound cool and is not all that articulate or compelling to back up the persona.

Interesting guest though

Posted: 13 December 2010 08:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I agree that this was an excellent interview and podcast -  to my surprise, given that Mr. Price was the host.
For my part, however, I enjoy hearing the wry and sly quality of Mr. Price’s voice and have sometimes enjoyed his humor.
He’s an unfortunate choice of POI host for other far more important reasons in my ears/eyes, but no need to beat that horse again.

Anyway, Mr. Nygard was great!
By coincidence, I’d just ordered his new DVD from Amazon, and now I really can’t wait to see the film.

Among several other comments made by Mr. Nygard, I loved this, which may become more-or-less my new motto:
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
That’s a wonderful and true insight, as were Mr. Nygard’s comments about the necessity of creating and the relationship of that concept to life purpose.

As a further aside, Mr. Nygard remarked, “If you want to find out what people really believe, look at what they do, not what they say.”
I think that is a key insight, also.  FWIW, I remember hearing an old Alan Watts lecture in which he said the same thing specifically with regard to Christianity.  Watts’ comment was something to the effect of, “If they really believed what the New Testament says about heaven and hell they’d be out every day shouting from the rooftops instead of buying TV sets and worrying about whether their kids are going to go to college.”
As Mr. Nygard mentioned, so very much of religion really is about tribe/community rather than belief, but the latter is held rather maniacally in order to maintain the benefits of the former.  That’s a key fact that we non-believers so often fail to appreciate, especially those of us who have never lived within a religious social group.

Last, with credit and thanks to Mr. Price for mentioning it, I’m going to look for the Walter Kaufman book, “Faith of the Heretic.”

[ Edited: 13 December 2010 08:15 PM by Trail Rider ]


Posted: 13 December 2010 09:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I really enjoyed this podcast. I find that I like Robert Price best when he deals with subjects having a religious bent where his expertise is advantageous. I will probably purchase this documentary.


Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Posted: 08 January 2011 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I would just like to to congratulate Roger Nygard and Robert Price on this particularly interesting podcast.
Sadly, as far as I can make out, the DVD Nature of Existence is only available in the NTSC format which unfortunately wont play in Europe.

Posted: 12 February 2011 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Here is something that actually lives up to its billing!  The title to the episode seemed very ambitious but I found this podcast to be quite worthwhile, the kind of thing I like to compliment by saying it should be required reading, or in this case listening.  Within it are several gems, some as noted by earlier comments, but what is also found is that it is the journey that matters, not the arrival (which in truth never comes) and where you come from has much to do with where you are bent. 

Yes, I will be looking for the documentary although I will probably strain my arm while patting myself on the back saying, “I know this, I know this!”, but a simple life makes for simple pleasures.  I contend that Mr. Nygard really did find at least the largest part of the answer he was looking for.


Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

Posted: 12 February 2011 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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There are some free downloads on iTunes

Posted: 06 March 2011 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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My podcast just had an interview with Roger, but since this thread is about the Point of Inquiry podcast and his appearance on that, I made a new thread just about the film itself over on the pop culture subforum.

Here ya go!